Impressions by Yvonne Belen

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3rd Igorot Cordillera BIMAAK Europe (ICBE) Consultation
5-8 May 2005

by Yvonne Belen

When I left the consultation, I was happy for many reasons.

BIBAK Switzerland hosted the conference in an organized manner. They prepared meticulously for the day-to-day and hour-by-hour activities. They overcame the obstacles of planning a conference, foremost was the far distance of the members from each other.

We were a bunch of energetic participants, eager to share our thoughts and experiences on the aspects of our culture we want to pass on and to have; we had serious moments and many occasions filled with humor. The jokes never seemed to end, even after the conference, when we went to Grimmialp.

Our speakers prepared their talks and made it interesting with audio-visual materials. Workshop facilitators saw to it that discussions went on smoothly. And our moderators for some sessions, who were requested to take the place of those absent or had to leave earlier, willingly did their part.

I enjoyed the cultural evening with the presence of the Swiss yodellers. It was my first time, and hopefully not the last, to see yodellers with cow bells. I always thought that cow bells were hung only around the neck of cows. What I didn’t know was there were huge cow bells, up to 15 kilos and more in weight, which could be hung on a person’s waist. And when several of these persons sway the cow bells, the musical sound reverberates in the hall.

During the tour, we had more views of the mountains and lakes - Thun and Brienz. From the mountains where we viewed nature’s breadth, we went to Aareschlucht, a gorge where we saw its depth.

For someone who lives in a country with mainly flat land, seeing mountains (this time, in Switzerland) was like going home to the mountain provinces in the Cordillera. Of course, there are differences like the snow, architecture of houses, cow bells, to mention a few, which we don’t have back home. But how delightful it was to wake up in the morning, glance out of the window and see the towering mountain in front of Hotel Friedegg. I felt I was in Bontoc.

Finally, I saw the Matterhorn from Zermatt and Gornergrat. I have seen the Matterhorn only in picture books and travel guides on Switzerland. When the opportunity came to have a view of the mountain, I grabbed it and invited other participants who could stay one day more. It was a crisp sunny morning when we went and we saw the Swiss side of the mountain.

For me, it was quality time at the conference and two days afterwards. I lived through those days from one memorable experience to another.

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